CHICAGO, September 19, 2023—Shure, a leading manufacturer of audio solutions known for quality, performance, and durability, commissioned premier global market research firm, IDC, to conduct a global study on the challenges facing organizations in the new age of hybrid work*. Analyzing attitudes from over 600 interviews across the U.S., China, Japan, the U.K., France, and Germany, the research assesses what is standing in the way of successful hybrid working environments.
Truly effective hybrid working environments are few and far between. The research uncovered how organizations can better position themselves to handle modern day working environments and optimize day-to-day communication, company culture, employee and client experiences, and team satisfaction.
Globally, organizations understand that hybrid work is here to stay, but realize that many current set-ups are not effective; 94% of respondents expect hybrid meetings to remain a pillar of work, yet more than 50% are pushing for a full return to office to improve corporate identity and collaboration. Organizations want to improve collaboration and believe a full return to office is the solution; IDC research says otherwise and indicates that a return to office is not the only answer. Data shows that businesses are overlooking key opportunities to improve the employee experience regardless of location, and that an investment in high quality audio results in more collaborative and flexible ways of working.
“Hybrid meeting environments became the new normal in recent years, and it’s apparent that they’re here to stay, but organizations still are not equipped with the tools needed for effective communication—even though many have tried. As a result, employees are left discouraged and disengaged, creating a cycle of frustration. It’s critical that from the very top of the organization and down, employees are using the right technology that enables them to communicate the right way,” said Robin Hamerlinck, Chief Information Officer at Shure.
Hamerlinck continues, “Sourcing the correct audio equipment is the first step, and a step that puts all employees on the same playing field, so that meeting equity is achieved. As a leader in audio conferencing and communication, we commissioned IDC to address these audio challenges and prove that it is possible for both employers and employees to thrive in hybrid environments.”
Hybrid Is Here To Stay, So Why Are We Still Struggling? We’ve Ignored The “Invisible Influencer”
Many hybrid meetings have challenges. At the executive level, this reality can trigger a demand for a complete return to office to enable effective collaboration. This is where the great mismatch lies. According to the IDC InfoBrief, a full return to office, or a fully remote workforce, fails to capture the value that can be realized with hybrid work, which can enable effective communication with colleagues globally. But hybrid technology must work repeatedly.
When a hybrid system repeatedly fails to work, employees are left frustrated. When asked about the main challenges of hybrid work, respondents highlight:
While audio quality is not the only concern raised when specifying solutions for a hybrid environment, audio quality has an impact on both individual and group productivity. Research by Eryn J. Newman and Norbert Schwarz, found poor audio quality causes listeners to perceive the speaker as less trustworthy, less intelligent, and less likeable. In addition, the content being presented is seen to be less important**. Scientific research underscores that high audio quality leads to increased trustworthiness and suggests that the person with the best audio quality will probably be considered the meeting’s best contributor if others have not optimized their equipment.
Additionally, companies at a higher hybrid maturity level are more likely to have invested in better audio quality equipment, resulting in an enhanced hybrid working experience:
As organizations continue to seek a competitive edge, having the right technology equipment and solutions in place will continue to gain significance.
Identifying, Accepting and Breaking the Circle of Frustration
When employees are unable to effectively communicate and collaborate, frustration arises. This can lead to poor performance within an organization, with employees unable to do their best work.
The cycle of frustration can emerge when organizations mandate a full return to office under the assumption that this will result in a quick fix, improving company culture and overcoming communication challenges. However, on any given day, some employees are still operating remotely. This sparks the need to implement off-the-shelf audio conference technology – often in a rush, without much research. This results in “good enough” equipment, that doesn’t hit the root of the issue: employees are unable to effectively communicate.
The right technology serves to optimize the work experience, and organizations that can identify and break the cycle of frustration can improve overall morale and satisfaction. Marginal gains of quality audio influence organizational reputation. Organizations that invest in audio can see a significant impact from the first meeting to the last:
The Price Was Right, Now It’s Wrong: Audio Equipment Choices Must Center on Quality
Once organizations identify and accept the cycle of frustration, purchase decisions and technology implementation become critical. When hybrid and remote work environments took hold of the world, organizations pursued quick fix purchases that failed to include key stakeholders in the decision-making process.
The result of poor, uninformed decision-making is inadequate audio solutions that do not work for the benefit of employees. These solutions now must be replaced with technology that enables productive work environments.
When procuring professional audio equipment, 65% of respondents said price was the most important factor for organizations planning to use audio and 52% said audio quality mattered most. However, for organizations who are already using professional audio equipment, the number one priority shifts to audio quality – 64% of respondents said audio quality is the most important factor whereas 58% of respondents said price.
For organizations to meet the requirements of superior audio, decisions need to be made by those people within the company who will use it on a regular basis and fully understand the benefits of professional audio equipment.
“Organizations were pushed to make rapid decisions around hybrid work when it emerged. Those weren’t always decisions that worked in the best interest of employees and overall business success. Today, we see that the hybrid work environment is here to stay,” said Mick Heys, Vice President Future of Workspaces and Imaging at IDC. “During our research, we discovered that 50% of organizations say that poor audio quality leads to reduced decision-making ability. Think about how long you spend in meetings, how long you spend in conference calls. So, if you can improve audio in every single one, that is the gift that keeps on giving.”
Around the World, Organizations Feel the Impact of Audio
The research takes a global perspective, uncovering insights from the U.S., China, Japan, the U.K., France, and Germany. Across countries, adoption of hybrid working environments range from low to high success rates.
Regardless of location, research shows that not investing in audio is just as consequential to the organization in terms of a slow erosion of critical functions and capabilities. By investing in audio, organizations will see more collaborative and flexible ways of working, as well as greater engagement from remote and hybrid employees, customers, and partners.
To discover additional insights and learn more on how to resolve key challenges of hybrid working, download the IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Shure here.
*IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Shure, The Hidden Influencer: Rethinking Audio Could Impact Your Organization Today, Tomorrow, and Forever, doc #EUR150735523, July 2023
**Good Sound, Good Research: How Audio Quality Influences Perceptions of the Research and Researcher, Science Communication Volume 40, Issue 2
1IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Shure, United States Country Chapter, doc #EUR151055123, July 2023
2IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Shure, China Country Chapter, doc #EUR151065823, July 2023
3IDC InfoBrief, sponsored by Shure, Japan Country Chapter, doc #EUR151123323, July 2023
Shure (www.shure.com) has been making people sound extraordinary for nearly a century. Founded in 1925, the Company is a leading global manufacturer of audio equipment known for quality, performance, and durability. We make microphones, wireless microphone systems, in-ear monitors, earphones and headphones, conferencing systems, and more. For critical listening, or high-stakes moments on stage, in the studio, and from the meeting room, you can always rely on Shure.
Shure Incorporated is headquartered in Niles, Illinois, in the United States. We have nearly 40 manufacturing facilities and regional sales offices throughout the Americas, EMEA, and Asia.